A Recipe For A Good Prayer Life

“Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth.” (Psalms 54:2)

I had to fly to New York several years ago for a business meeting. It was a flight I will never forget.

To me, I have always found the aisle seats to be the most comfortable seats on an airline. And since I had a two-hour flight, I asked the travel agent to reserve an aisle seat for me.

Even though I boarded the plane and quickly found my seat, I gave it up when a young man in crutches appeared in greater need of an aisle seat. I gladly offered my seat, moved over to the adjacent window seat, and settled in for the flight.

Although I am not particularly fond of flying, I don’t have an unhealthy fear of it either. In fact, this flight began uneventfully and weather from Atlanta to New York gave no reason for any concern.

While looking out the window, I noticed something on the outside of one of the engines. It looked like water and I didn’t give it a lot of thought. However, as the flight progressed, my concern grew. It wasn’t water coming from that engine. It was oil.

I leaned up to the seat in front of me and asked one of my travel companions if he had noticed the problem with the engine. We both agreed that the captain should be notified and immediately informed one of the flight attendants about the problem. The attendant returned and advised that the captain found nothing unusual with the instruments and would have it checked when we landed in New York.

Even though I didn’t trust the captain’s judgment, I know I didn’t trust his instruments. There was oil on the outside of that engine and it was getting worse by the minute. I didn’t know anything else to do but pray, and I can’t remember a time when I’ve prayed more about anything.

I don’t believe the captain’s judgment or the accuracy of his instruments had anything to do with the fact that we landed safely and without incident. In my heart of hearts, I believe God answered my prayers. In fact, several of the passengers commented as we got off the plane that the oil problem had completely disappeared before we started our final approach.

The forty-five minutes I spent in prayer that day has convicted me about my prayer life in general. I realized that I spend far too much time selfishly asking God to get me out of trouble.

Don’t misunderstand me. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with putting our deepest fears before the Lord. In fact, the Bible says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Ephesians 6:18) So whenever my knees knock, I’m going to go to the Lord in prayer.

What I realized about my prayer life is that it does not have the balance it needs. Sure, I should feel free to ask my Father for anything. But prayer should include other things besides our petitions. For example, we should devote some time during prayer in simple adoration of who he is. “How right they are to adore you,” we are told by Solomon. (Song of Solomon 1:4) Secondly, we should confess our sins every time we go to him in prayer. Remember, John told us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Finally, we should never forget to thank the Lord for his daily presence in our lives, which is exactly what the psalmist meant when he said, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving…give thanks to him…” (Psalms 100:4)

The Holy Spirit has reminded me that God doesn’t just want to hear from me about specific needs in my life. There is a lot more of God than we sometimes allow him to show us. So I’m going to try to remember the letters, A-C-T-S, when I go to him in prayer. Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. I’m convinced that it’s a good recipe for a great prayer life.

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